Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Use the Decoy Effect to Influence Your Boss' Decision-Making

Let's say you need to present two different options to someone in a position of authority. Perhaps you need to present two alternate business plans to your boss, or maybe you're trying to get your fiance to decide between two possible honeymoon locations. 

While you may have your own preference among the options present, there's no guarantee the deciding party will see the situation as you do. 

Is there anything you can do to nudge the decider over to your side? Sometimes yes, via the Decoy effect.

How it works: Let's pretend you are presenting two different business plans (options A & B) to your boss. You believe that option A is the best course of action, but you fear your boss will select option B. Like anyone making a decision, your boss must weigh the upsides and downsides of both options to determine which is the better course of action.

To employ the Decoy effect on your decision-maker in question, you must introduce a third option. Option C will serve as a decoy option and must possess two qualities:
  • It must share a relevant quality with the other two options, but be inferior to both.
  • it must share a second relevant quality with the other options that is inferior to your preferred option (A) but superior to the non-preferred option (B).
Option C will not be a desirable choice because both options A and B are superior to it in some desirable way, yet option C will still be superior to B on some other important aspect. The presence of option C makes option B look worse relative to option A, increasing the likelihood that the decider will ultimately choose option A.

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(Featured photo credit: fklv (Obsolete hipster) / Foter / CC BY-SA)

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